Keri Martinowich PhD

Lead Investigator, Lieber Institute for Brain Development; Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Telephone Number: 410-955-1510
Fax Number: 410-955-1044

855 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
Room: 382 Rangos Building
Lab Page
Areas of Research
Systems, Cognitive + Computational Neuroscience
Neural Circuits, Ensembles + Connectomes
Neurobiology of Disease

Graduate Program Affiliations

Neuroscience Training Program



Human Genetics Training Program


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    Population dynamics in the prelimbic cortex (PrL) during fear processing. (a) (Top) The excitatory DREADD receptor hM3Dq was expressed in ventral hippocampal (vHPC)-PrL projectors, and GCaMP6f was expressed in PrL to image neurons during fear conditioning, context recall, and extinction. (Bottom) GCaMP6f expression (green) and an endoscopic lens track (dashed line) in PrL, and the vHPC showing mCherry expression in projectors. (b) (Top) Field of view from PrL showing raw GCaMP6f fluorescence, with individual ROIs (single neurons) superimposed in orange. (Bottom) Traces extracted from PrL of one mouse registered across conditioning, recall, and extinction.

Molecular and Cellular Regulation of Neural Plasticity

Even among similar cell types, differences in synaptic connectivity and activity patterns render these populations functionally and molecularly distinct. While early cell type-specific investigations obtained molecular profiles on the basis of cell-type markers,   molecular genetic tools now allow researchers to target circuits of interest with high precision based on connectivity as well as neural activity patterns in animal models. While animal models have made progress in identifying some of  the neural substrates underlying neuropsychiatric disorders, they cannot recapitulate all aspects of human disease. Towards better understanding the molecular pathology of complex brain disorders, large-scale efforts are underway to characterize the human brain transcriptome within and across cell types of the human brain. For example, single nucleus RNA-sequencing (snRNA-seq) approaches have identified cell type-specific transcriptional changes in Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia, and other analyses have identified cell type-specific enrichment of genome-wide association study (GWAS) signals. Our laboratory’s approach couples the power of circuit-manipulation, molecular profiling  and activity-mapping in mouse models of behavior with transcriptomic approaches in the postmortem human brain to better understand how programs of gene expression in defined populations of cells contribute to circuit function and control of behaviors that are relevant for neuropsychiatric disorders. We use genetic manipulation and viral transgenesis in combination with molecular, cellular and systems-level techniques in animals, and integrate these data with cell- and circuit-specific transcriptomic studies in the postmortem human brain and human-derived cell models. Work in our group is arranged into three broad themes: 1) molecular profiling in postmortem human tissue across spatial gradients and within specific cell types; 2) identification of how unique cell types within key neural circuits impact network activity to drive cognitive and social behaviors in animal models; 3) utilizing human-derived in vitro cell models to better understand the role of molecular variants on neural development.A recent focus of our group has been to develop and employ new molecular and imaging approaches for identifying molecular profiles of distinct cell types and to better understand the corresponding spatial molecular landscape using spatial transcriptomics in both the mouse and human brain. These studies provide novel approaches for defining the topography of gene expression in the rodent and human brain to better understand molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders.


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